GLEN COVE, NY (FEB. 14. 2010) -- A businessman who has been fighting the City of Glen Cove for 13 years over control of his company's 1-acre waterfront property, says the city wants him off the property now, but won't pay him.
For John Doxey, whose family has been business in Glen Cove for seven decades and has done much of the demolition for the city's urban renewal projects during the 1060s and 1970s, it's become a race against time.
The city, which has garnered media attention recently because of its financial problems, has obtained an order from State Supreme Court to remove his salvage business, Doxside Industries, from its site at 10 Garvies Point Rd. so it can use the property as part of its long-planned waterfront revitalization project. But the city hasn't taken any steps to release $1.3 million it has promised as a minimum advance payment, Doxey and his lawyer, Bruce Levinson, of Manhattan, said.
The money has been held in escrow by the Nassau County Treasurer's office, according to court papers. State law requires both an advance payment and that disputes over the ultimate amount of the award be determined later in court.
Levinson, meanwhile, hopes the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Brooklyn will stay the eviction. Papers addressing Doxside Industries' application for a restraining order against Glen Cove are due at the court on Feb. 14.
Doxey and Levinson claim the $1.3 million offered by the city is a pittance and that the city's Industrial Development Agency, which is handling the condemnation, has not made its appraisals available to them as required by law. Levinson said the land itself is worth almost $7 million dollars and that property that Doxey is unable to remove from the site, such as fixtures and buildings, are worth another $5 million. The city has offered $323,000 for the fixtures and another $25,000 for relocation expenses.
Doxey says moving all of his heavy equipment -- if he could find another site quickly enough -- requires millions of dollars for disassembly, transportation, special permits and reassembly.
"They expect us to pack our tools and leave," he said.
"It's a triple whammy," said Levinson. "John can't afford to move or buy anything else. The business will be destroyed."
Indeed, Doxey said. "The city should be worrying about keepings its small businesses instead of throwing them out."
Moreover, Doxey said he can't understand Glen Cove's sudden urgent need to get his business off the land since the city hasn't disclosed any plans for the site. He noted that other sites taken by the city in the past through condemnation sat empty for up to 30 years. These included numerous businesses torn down by Doxey's father's company in 1968 and replaced in 1998 by a Staples store and 53 acres along Garvies Point Road that were taken off the tax rolls in1978. "There is still no appoved plans for these properties," Doxey said.
Doxey said the city's been trying to get his land, which his family bought through a corporation in 1993, since 1998 when then Mayor Tom Suozzi offered a land swap. The land offered by the city, however, was part of a federally designated Super Fund site and the deal was dropped at the closing, Doxey said. Then, in 2005, using eminent domain, Glen Cove's Industrial Development Agengy initiated condemnation proceedings. The court awarded the IDA title to the site in 2006 and the Doxey business has remained on the site under an agreement with the IDA approved by State Supreme Court Justice Steven M. Jaeger. In October, Acting State Supreme Court Justice Thomas A. Adams ordered the city to pay Doxey and that Doxey leave the site.
Doxey said the 1-acre parcel is the only waterfront land near Garvies Point that hasn't been designated a Super Fund site. "This is a salvage yard," he nevertheless admits. "It may need some housekeeping attention."
Doxey says his company won't move unless he gets $1.3 million that the city has placed in escrow with the Nassau County Treasurer's office. "Give us the $1.3 million and we're willing to cooperate," Doxey said.
Glen Cove "broke every rule in the court proceeding valuing the property," he said. "Everything this city has done is totally illegal." He noted that among other things, the city initiated eminent domain proceedings without an approved revitalization plan.
What's more, he said, Glen Cove had harassed him by sending DEC inspectors and fire marshals to check on alleged violations at his business in an effort to get him off the property. He said inspectors found no violations. "They never pinned us on any charge," Doxey noted. Every one of the most recent criminal summonses issued by the City has been dismissed, although Glen Cove, using a tactic not typically employed in a matter involving alleged violations akin to traffic tickets, has appealed those dismissals to the Appellate Term of State Supreme Court.
Recently, Doxey said, the town has had his property under surveillance by helicopters. "Where did they find the money for that?" he asked.
Doxey say his family has tried to work with the city to resolve the property issue. "We've always tried to be very cooperative with the city." He said his family once asked to redevelop the property for a use compatible with the city's plans, but was told by officials, "It's just easier to kick you out."
Now, John Doxey says he's prepared to take his case to federal court, if necessary. "There's a common sense solution," he says, "Pay your bill or give Doxey back the title to his land."
He added: "It seems I've paid for this property a hundred times over. They've done everything but come down at gunpoint and shoot me."